Writing Group: Monster in the Mirror (PRIVATE)

Hello, Spirits and Otherselves!

Have you ever felt like something’s watching you? Especially around mirrors? Have you seen movements in the reflections that you just can’t explain, that your brain just seems to fail to process? As risky as it may be, I think it’s time to take a closer look, because…

This week’s Writing Group prompt is:

Monster in the Mirror

RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!

There’s so many different stories and myths and beliefs surrounding mirrors and reflections. Which gives us many ways to twist and bend this lovely prompt.

One way to take this prompt is a rather classic route. We’ve all heard of Bloody Mary, haven’t we? Perhaps you choose to write about the time you actually tried the trick yourself. Did it work? Did you, like myself, say it twice and then chicken out? Maybe you choose to write from Mary’s perspective. Is she really bloodthirsty, or does she just get a bad rap? What does she do inside the mirror while she waits for someone to be brave enough to summon her? Or perhaps you choose to write about some ghosts that haunt your home. After all, the mirror seems to be a very popular place to see them. Always looming in the background, just over your shoulder or passing through the background.

You could also write about someone who sees only the worst in themselves, who absolutely hates facing themselves in the mirror because they see just someone they hate. Maybe you write about them coming to terms with something about themselves. What part do they finally accept? Do they work through something that’s been weighing them down? Maybe the monster they see in the mirror isn’t themselves at all, but the reflection, taunting them and telling them the worst things about themselves. Maybe this reflection even wants to take their place in the real world. Or maybe this mirror is no real mirror at all, but an Ungaikyo, a particular Japanese yokai in the form of a possessed mirror that can warp and twist the reflections to show what it prefers to show. Oftentimes, when a human looks into it, it shows the human a monstrous, transformed version of themselves.

Mirrors are all around us. They don’t always have to be in pretty frames or on bathroom or bedroom walls, either. Anything reflective can act as a mirror. Windows, bodies of water, shiny metal objects like doorknobs or faucet taps. When you really think about it… your reflection is a hard thing to escape.

So steel your nerves and look back into yourself. 

What do you see?

—Shawna

Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.

Tune into the stream this Saturday at 3:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!

The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.

Rules and Guidelines

We read at least four stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and two of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!

  1. Text and Formatting

    1. English only.
    2. Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
    3. Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
    4. Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
    5. Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
    6. Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
    7. No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
  2. What to Submit

    1. Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
    2. Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
    3. Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
    4. No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
    5. Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
  3. Submission Rules

    1. One submission per participant.
    2. Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
    3. Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
    4. You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
    5. Be constructive and uplifting. These submissions are not for a professional market, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We do this, first and foremost, for the joy of the craft. Help other writers to feel like their work is valuable, and be considerate and gentle with critique when you offer it. Authors who leave particularly abrasive or disheartening remarks on this post will be disqualified from selection for readings.
    6. Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
    7. You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
    8. Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.

Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.

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WolfsbaneX
WolfsbaneX
8 months ago

“Staring Down Death”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane

Cold autumnal winds whipped around my unit as we waited for orders. War banners of red and blue adorned the base of Mount Buntaiya in the colors of our empire. The midday sun’s rays were a volley of arrows through the canopy. On Mount Kazheng across from us, banners as green as the sea trimmed in gold waved along its base. A surge of excitement ran through our troop as our commander called out.

“Hail! The one you face is Tsung Beimon of House Tsung-Hua, Upper House of the Gaojun Empire!”

Our army roared as he finished.

“Hail, you dogs! The one you face is Yoibokkan Khur, son of Yoibokkan Daio, heir to the Throne of Lilies!”

My heart jumped into my throat as our enemies roared back. My stomach was ice. I’d heard stories of Yoibokkan. I hoped we’d avoid him, yet here we were.

Before too long, our commander and our enemy agreed to single combat. I could feel the relief flood through the ranks of soldiers.

“Tsung Beimon, name your champion!” Khur’s call came.

“Very well. I name Zento Jaemon as champion!”

I almost dropped my sword. ME?! No… There’s no way. This had to be a trick. My unit looked at me in disbelief. I could see the fear in their eyes. They knew the stories, too. I sighed. Fine. I could die for a bunch of cowards if it meant that we could avoid flooding the valley with red.

A horse ride later, I stood opposite my death. I could see Yoibokkan Khur clearly: a brute of an oni. Four great mirrors adorned his bulky iron armor, and a large kanabo over his shoulder.

“So, you’re Zento Jaemon?”

I drew my sword. “I am.”

Yoibokkan entered into a fighting stance. “What a pitiful yokai. I shall give you a swift death.”

With a mighty swing, his kanabo hurtled towards me. I ducked under it and charged. I swung my sword, aiming for his underarm. Yoibokkan tried to back up, but it was too late. Crimson filled the air as my enemy’s severed arm fell.

jesse fisher
jesse fisher
8 months ago

Monster in Reflection
by Jesse Fisher

Papa said I’m a good child. I do what I am told. The person is sleeping in the lake now, I asked why we do this? Papa said That we are freeing them from all the evil in the world.

I did not understand it but I trusted Papa, he was the greatest person around. People come around and ask about the people we saved. Papa told me to never show them our way to heaven.

People began to look at me while we looked at what to eat for the week. Even as I waved to them the parents kept their kids away and the looks they gave confused me.

—-

Papa was taken years ago, and it was my fault. I could not kill her. I loved her, the way she moved and smelled good. Then she got away and told people of our actions. Papa was enraged by this happening but he gave me money to get away from this and start over again.

My rage and sadness was almost foreign to me as I both looked over my shoulder and for the lady that got away. News around her was easy enough to find, fame for allowing the evil to go on.

Now I am a being of the night, stocking the lady for her time to repent. However there is evil out there and I am the only one that can save them.

The mirror shows me others will see me.

—-

“This just in.” The anchor read off his paper. “The man wanted in five states for killing seventy people has been spotted in the area. The Mayor has locked down the town and the police are sweeping the town.”

RVMPLSTLTSKN
RVMPLSTLTSKN
8 months ago

Names and Power
By RVMPLSTLTSKN

The wanderer was brought into Osareph’s chambers. He looked at her features in the mirror. Her skin reflected darkly in the burnished bronze. Her matted hair was as black as his used to be, her eyes darker, her expression blacker still. That expression of petty violence humored him. He had only had her arrested, nothing more. More could be done though to make her talk about the caravan at his borders.

“Did you find any other spies?” he asked the apprentice priests who held her.

“No, High Priest. We assume they are hiding in the abandoned quarters.”

“Those are not my people,” the wanderer said.

The apprentices tightened their grips. Osareph smiled at their zeal; they were young and energetic. He turned to her. “No?”

“No.”

“You speak our language well.”

“Yes.”

“What’s your name?”

“Call me niekas.”

“That’s not a name.”

“Neither is ‘High Priest.’”

“Where are you from?”

A bauble glittered in her hair as she tossed her head. A curio, some kind of foreign shell. “Faraway.”

“I’m Osareph of Tukminaluk.”

She grinned. “Names have power.”

He laughed meanly. “Idiots say lots of words have power. Uncommon words, old words, forgotten words, words in other languages. What more is a name than a word?”

“A name identifies the self,” she said. “And they’re personal.”

“You’re quite young.”
“You’re not as old as Father.”

“I saw gods, the earth itself brought to its knees.”

“So did my parents.”

“My point: you’re too young to remember before, when we were so populous that names were repeated and common. That’s what gives words power, niekas, how common they are. How often they are breathed into existence by people. And the truly most powerful word is the first word every babe learns; No.”

She leaned forward, her rounded cheeks lined by the hardships of old roads and displeasure. “You have no power.”

“None?”

“There are still gods.”

“In Sostine? Yes, I know your accent.”

“No, but I need something before I tell you.”

He spread his arms in a facsimile of benevolence. “Make your request.”

“Say my name.”

He smiled cruelly, “niekas.”

Last edited 8 months ago by RVMPLSTLTSKN
Rattus
Rattus
8 months ago

Forced Sins
by Gerrit (Rattus)

Areziah sat in the Grand Hall, staring down at the plate full of food set before him. He never did have much of an appetite after wearing the mask.

Off in the distance, students and residents made idle chatter.

“Did you hear they ended the insurgency?”

“They’re saying the Knights crushed the rebellion before sunset.”

“I wish I could have been there to see them in action.”

Areziah prodded at his food and did his best to tune out the conversations around him. The only thing worse than not knowing what he did, he figured, was having to listen to strangers glorify it.

“Just don’t think about it, you’ll be a lot happier.” Thena reached across the table and placed her hand over Areziah’s. “Ignorance is bliss, after all.”

“I wish it was that easy.”

“It could be.”

Areziah took a shallow breath, his eyes never lifting to meet those across from him. “Hundreds of people died yesterday, Thena. Many of them by my hands. Yet I can’t remember any of their faces. Can’t honour any of their memories.”

“Honouring their memory is a job for their loved ones. Not–”

“For the one who took them away?” Areziah finally met her gaze, and he felt a tear forming in the corner of his eye.

The two sat in silence for a long moment, hand in hand in their solemnity. Finally, Thena spoke up. “You’re not a bad person, Areziah. You didn’t kill those people. The Arcanaeum did. You’re just the body they acted through.

“Gods know I’ve done it, too,” she continued. “But puppets like us aren’t to blame for the sins we’re forced to commit by our masters.”

She was right. Deep down, he knew that. But knowing it and accepting it are two different things. When he thought of the bodies littering the ground, the blood soaking into the dirt, he hated himself.

The sins may have been committed by someone pulling his strings, but he was the one that had let them tie those strings in the first place.

Glaceon373
Glaceon373
8 months ago

At the Party
by Carrie (Glaceon373)

There was no such thing as a “good” party. Parties were either bearable or unbearable, with nothing in between.

This was an unbearable one. And incredibly so.

The air stunk of smoke, cheap tequila, and a million other scents that all made Jasper want to vomit. The music shook the walls with every thumping beat, his skull rattling with the rhythm. Faces blurred together as a headache started to swim across his vision, but he caught the face of his roommate and ride home in the mess of people, and he didn’t look like he’d be thinking about leaving any time soon.

So that left Jasper stuck. Stuck and alone and scared and overwhelmed.

He found a wall, and placed both his hands against it, feeling for a door or a hallway or anything to get out of this room. After what felt like ages, he found a corner and looped around it, then followed wherever it led.

There was a door. He shoved himself inside and slammed it behind him.

He was in a bathroom. An empty one, luckily. And the noise wasn’t nearly as bad in here as it was out there.

He let out a sigh of relief and held himself over the sink.

“This wasn’t a good idea,” he whispered.

OF COURSE NOT. BUT NOW YOU KNOW.

Jasper glanced up at the mirror. “Wow. Thanks.”

YOU ARE WELCOME, responded the strange scaled, six-limbed, seven-eyed creature on his reflection’s shoulder.

“So now what? Just stay here for who knows how long?”

NOT NECESSARILY.

“My ride’s still having fun. I can’t leave.”

YOU HAVE LEGS AND A MAP, YES?

Jasper pulled his phone from his pocket. “Yeah?.”

THEN LET US LEAVE AND SLEEP IN PEACE.

“I can’t just abandon this though—”

WHY NOT?

“… Fair point.” He typed in his address and prepared to leave the building.

I WILL SEE YOU WHEN YOU BRUSH YOUR TEETH.

“You… you really don’t have to phrase it like that.”

There was no response as he left the mirror on the other side of the door.

i-prefer-the-term-antihero
i-prefer-the-term-antihero
8 months ago

[Removed]

Last edited 4 months ago by i-prefer-the-term-antihero
Lunabear
Lunabear
8 months ago

Goodnight
by Lunabear (CW/TW: Implied child abuse)

“Any monsters?”

The little boy shivers beneath his blanket while gripping his butterfly plushie. He watches his mother closely as she peers into the closet and peeks under his bed.

“No monsters in sight,” she assures him. Plugging in his night light, she tucks him in properly, kissing his forehead as he yawns loudly.

“Good night, my sweet pea. I love you,” she whispers while nuzzling his hair with her nose. Her fingers reflexively graze the thin, horizontal burn embedded in the back of his neck. In the dim lighting, her eyes zero in on the bandage wrapped around his left ring finger. She swallows her guilt and anger.

“Good night, Mama. I love you, too.” The boy snuggles with his stuffed penguin and rests his head against his pillow. His small, light snores are soon heard.

The mother heads to the bedroom door with a warm smile. Across from her, the mirror on the closet door displays her reflection thanks to the hall light. The shadow shrinks from the bright exposure.

She puts her fingers to her lips. “Not a peep,” she threatens sternly.

“Let me out,” the silhouette begs, its shadowy hands pressed against the glass. Its voice is wispy and mimics the sound of cracking ice. “I promise not to hurt him again.”

“You’ll never have another chance.”

A pained smile carves itself into her lips at her boy’s resting form. She quietly closes the door.

––––

The little boy stirs fitfully, whimpering in his sleep.

“No! I’m sorry!” The boy clutches his penguin tighter, tears falling from behind his clenched eyelids.

A soothing rendition of a lullaby fills the darkened room. Soft humming soon follows.

The boy awakens gently, rubbing sleep and tears from his vision. Sitting, he looks around.

“Mommy?”

“Please help.”

He slides out of bed and reaches for a nearby lamp.

“Don’t! The light hurts!”

He moves towards the mirror, placing a hand against the cool surface.

The silhouette copies him.

“Are you stuck?”

“Yes. But maybe…you can…release me?”

“How?”

A crescent opens within its darkness.

“Do you have a hammer?”

Last edited 8 months ago by Lunabear
Calliope Rannis
Calliope Rannis
8 months ago

A Fun Night Out (Nyx’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis (Content Warning: Alcohol Abuse, Gore)

Nyx tore the bottle from her mouth, savouring the warmth of the wine.

It felt good.

She felt good.

Good enough to check the mirror?

Sure.

The reflection swung into view.

Her cheeks were pleasantly red – was that the makeup or wine, she wondered?

Her eyelids were dark, eyelashes long and shining – definitely the makeup.

Her outfit was standard, practical – but she looked hot in it anyway.

She looked beautiful.

She felt beautiful.

She glanced towards the bottle.

Good, it was still mostly-

Well, it was about half-

Okay, maybe about a third full.

No matter. It would last her until she reached the bar.

Nyx looked into the mirror and smiled, fangs gleaming in the glass.

This night felt like a good one.

She awoke to a wet, foul stickiness, her head exploding with pain.

She breathed in – the smell was disgusting – and out with a pitiful groan.

Her hands clutched at slick grass and sticky mud, straining to raise her off the ground.

Only when she was up on all fours, did Nyx dare raise her head, jaws clenched in agony.

She looked upon scattered bones, gobbets of meat, shreds of organs and severed limbs.

Oh for fuck’s sake.

She staggered to her feet, only to immediately buckle over as her stomach twisted into knots.

She tried to cough, and two pints of rancid blood scattered across the ground.

She felt sick. But at least it wasn’t her own blood.

Water. She could hear water. Good.

Nyx escaped the trees to find a riverbank. The stars above judged her. Dark water flowed below.

The reflection lurched into view.

Her cheeks were red, caked in dried blood. As was most of her body.

Her eyes were black pits, the moonlight refusing to enter.

Her clothes were nowhere to be seen. Maybe those would be easier to clean, once she found them.

Gods, she looked so ugly.

She was always so fucking ugly.

Nyx dived forward, her body shattering the reflection into nothingness.

If the river wasn’t enough to wash this awful night away, then maybe the wine tomorrow would.